"The governor's proposal will help
protect drinking water and wildlife across Illinois," said Jack
Darin, director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. "This
initiative will help growing communities ensure that local streams
and rivers will remain clean, even as population and wastewater
Under the proposed standards, new or
expanding domestic sewer and wastewater treatment facilities that
discharge more than 1 million gallons of water a day will be
required to reduce their phosphorus content to 1 milligram per
liter. Certain industrial facilities will also have the same limit
applied to them.
The facilities will be able to meet the
limit by incorporating available phosphorus reduction technology.
Phosphorus removal can be achieved with either biological or
Phosphorus removed from the treated
wastewater is contained in sludge or biosolids generated during the
sewage treatment process. Phosphorus is a naturally occurring
nutrient and a basic building block necessary to support life, but
too much phosphorus from organic materials in wastewater discharged
into a stream or lake may upset the balance in a body of water.
The phosphorous, when disposed through
a land application, may increase the nutrient levels in soil,
enhancing the soil's natural ability to sustain growth.
Because there is still scientific
debate over how much phosphorus is excessive, Illinois EPA has
proposed an "interim" standard that would be in effect for the next
several years to allow the science of phosphorous discharge to
"These standards are intended to
address those concerns that too much phosphorus in the state's water
sources result in excessive plant growth and algae, may be
detrimental to fish and aquatic life, and may cause odor and taste
problems in drinking water," said Illinois EPA Director Renee
Cipriano. "The agency has been working on the proposal at the
request of Governor Blagojevich, who pledged to address the
phosphorus concerns raised by state and local environmental groups."
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The proposal is part of the governor's
new Prairie State Water Quality Initiative to improve the quality of
Illinois lakes and streams.
"We owe it to our future generations to
do everything we can now to ensure that they'll be able to enjoy
Illinois' natural habitat and wildlife for years down the road,"
Gov. Blagojevich said. "This proposal takes a big step forward in
protecting threatened plant and fish life around the state's many
wastewater and sewer treatment facilities."
The Pollution Control Board will
conduct hearings to obtain testimony from interested constituencies
on the proposed standards and then will issue a decision.
Other elements of the governor's
Prairie State Water Quality Initiative include:
--Providing technical assistance and
grants for local watershed coalitions to develop and implement
protection plans and to analyze advanced technologies.
--Promoting local stewardship of rivers
and lakes, including volunteer cleanups and water-quality
--Developing watershed cleanup plans
through the evaluation of total maximum daily load, a process which
pinpoints potential pollution sources and identifies strategies to
--Using advanced scientific techniques
to monitor mercury levels in water bodies throughout the state. This
data will help Illinois EPA devise better control strategies and a
reliable way to measure progress.
--Strengthening the Facilities Planning
Area process, which evaluates the effects of new or expanded
municipal sewage treatment plants on water quality.
--Implementing an electronic reporting process in which thousands of
monthly discharge sampling reports from regulated wastewater
treatment facilities can now be provided through a secure Internet
process, increasing efficiency for the facility operators and making
it possible for Illinois EPA to analyze data for possible problems
[News release from the